Tagged with "Sustainability"
The seed catalogs are arriving and if you’re like us, you can’t wait to dive in but may be wondering what is the benefit of opting for organic seed?
Conventional seed production is one of the most chemically intensive types of agriculture, and is controlled by a handful of companies. Since seed crops are not for human consumption, pesticide regulation is lax. Crops grown for seed must go through their entire life-cycle before they can produce seeds. To combat pests and diseases during their long life-cycle, pesticides are applied liberally and often.
On the other hand, organic seed crops are managed to increase resiliency, focusing on soil health to provide nutrients and bolster plants’ highly adaptive immune systems. Groundbreaking research in the fields of epigenetics has proven that plants even pass along information to their offspring to help them better respond to the growing conditions experienced by the parents, but this only happens if your plants have been exposed to natural challenges versus spraying synthetic chemicals and disrupting this process. To sum it up: organic seeds grow better organically!
Organic seeds have a profound potential for improving our food and agriculture systems. Seeds can be adapted for warmer or dryer conditions, for water use efficiency, for improved nutritional content, and for flavor!
Where to buy seeds adapted to your area:
Read Between the Lines of Your Pesticide Program
It’s the time of year when landscape contracts are headed your way and we think it’s important you know how to read between the lines. This sample is a landscape contract that was sent out this month in NY. If your landscaper follows a standard pesticide program, chances are yours will be similar.
Many states mandate that any chemical applied to your lawn is disclosed in your contract. This includes Minimum Risk Pesticides, sometimes called 25(b)’s, which Perfect Earth Project would say are okay to use. An example would be a biopesticide which is a naturally occurring substance or a microorganism that is applied to control pests.
But when it comes to synthetic lawn and landscape chemicals, do not turn a blind eye. The more you know, the better choices you can make to seek alternatives and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Don’t fire your landscaper, talk to them. Find out if any of the “targets” are even issues in your lawn. We can help you talk to your landscaper about kicking the toxic synthetic chemical habit.
Just this one contract would mean exposure to probable carcinogens, and substances linked to neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, neuromuscular effects, birth and reproductive effects, kidney and liver damage and canine lymphoma. They are toxic to pollinators, birds, fish and aquatic organisms and pollute our aquifers.
If your lawn can be just as beautiful without synthetic chemicals, why would you expose yourself to this?
You can download this .PDF to share with your family, friends, neighbors, school administrators and legislators.
What’s in that magic bottle of liquid sprayed on driveways and sidewalks to kill stubborn weeds? Mostly it’s glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and other weed killers that was deemed a “probable” human carcinogen by the World Health Organization in 2015. Glyphosate also is used widely in agriculture, resulting in weed resistance, water contamination, soil degradation, and damage to marine wildlife. Over 826 million pounds of glyphosate are applied to crops and landscapes across the globe every year.
Some of the scary human health effects associated with glyphosate:
- Non-Hodgkins lymphoma
- Kidney and liver damage
- Endocrine (hormone) disruption
- Reproductive effects
- Eye and skin irritation
Also in these products, but not listed on the label: a host of “inert” ingredients that make the active ingredient easier to apply or better able to adhere to its target. These inerts can be as toxic as the active ingredients themselves and/or amplify the toxicity of individual ingredients when combined. For example, many glyphosate products contain polyethoxylated tallowamine (POEA), a surfactant that is considered more toxic to marine life than glyphosate.
Source: Beyond Pesticides
- 1 gallon 20% vinegar
- 1 cup orange oil
Mix vinegar and orange oil in a bucket. Mix thoroughly, and use a spray bottle to apply to all surfaces of plant. Reapply as necessary. Store any unused liquid in a clear, labeled glass container and store in a cool, dark space.
Note: Be sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear when applying your homemade herbicide. It can irritate your skin and eyes.
Photo credit: Lacuna Design / Getty Images
Made the transition to organic, but still have some old landscape chemicals sitting in your basement? Helped Aunt Bertha clean out her garden shed this spring and discovered a few dusty bottles of Roundup?
You should dispose of any unused chemicals in your home to avoid accidental poisoning (pets and kids), but don’t just toss them in the trash. If dumped with the rest of your waste, they can leach into and pollute ground water.
Most sanitation and recycling departments host events for safe disposal of dangerous household items including pesticides, cleaning supplies, paint, medication, and electronics. Contact your local sanitation department to ask about the next event in your community. Your local department may also have a facility where you can drop off specific items anytime.
• For our neighbors in East Hampton, the East Hampton Recycling Center hosts disposal days on the third Saturday of May and the third Saturday of October.
• Southampton Town residents can dispose of pollutants at different locations in May, June, August, and October.
• New York City residents can stay up-to-date on upcoming Safe Disposal Events on the NYC Department of Sanitation website.
Just like your skin, soil craves warmth and moisture during the dry, cold winter months. Bare soil is prone to drying out and freezing, which can damage roots and affect soil quality.
The best protection for your garden beds? The leaves that naturally fall from the trees and plants on your property. Not only will they insulate your soil over the winter, they’ll feed it, too. Leaves decompose over the winter and build the amount of organic matter in your soil, providing natural nutrients that are essential for soil health and reducing the need for additional fertilizer. (Do you ever see bare soil like this in forest floor?)
Plus, you’ll be saving yourself the trouble of raking and bagging, and keeping organic material out of your local landfill. It’s a win for you, your garden, and the planet.
You can also run your mower right over those leaves instead. Mulched leaves not only protect and feed the plants you love, they also help control plants you don't love. Next spring, those chopped up leaf bits can block sunlight from germinating dandelion seeds and other sun-loving weeds.
Need a special mower? Not necessarily. Mulching mowers are most effective, but regular mowers mulch leaves, too. Run your mower over the leaves a couple times and be sure to bag your mower bag.
Don’t forget: Leaves are called “leaves” for a reason!